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Published: Tuesday, 3/22/2005

Suspect killed uncle in dispute, nephew testifies

The 15-year-old nephew of Robert Badgett told a jury yesterday that Lamonte Hopings shot Badgett during a dispute outside the teenager's Old West End home last May.

On the opening day of Hopings' aggravated murder trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, Rodshode Sutton testified that his uncle went to the duplex at 3103 Parkwood Ave. to discuss a break-in that had occurred in the home earlier that day.

Young Sutton said Hopings and his brother, Larry Hopings, quarreled with Badgett, and the defendant went inside the lower unit at 3103 Parkwood Ave., came out with a 12-gauge shotgun, and shot his uncle once in the head.

"He just shot it," young Sutton said.

Badgett, 25, of 554 West Central Ave. died from the shotgun blast that Hopings allegedly fired on May 19 from the porch of the duplex, where young Sutton and his mother lived.

Hopings, 28, of 1110 Conventry Ave. fled. He turned himself in to authorities five days later.

In opening arguments, Jennifer Donovan, an assistant prosecutor, said the Suttons' upper unit had been burglarized and that an upset young Sutton made statements that may have offended others who were present for a family gathering at the lower unit.

Ms. Donovan said young Sutton's mother demanded that her son apologize for the comments, but instead the teenager went to his uncle's nearby home.

Badgett didn't believe that his nephew needed to apologize and went to the home without a weapon to discuss the situation, she said.

"Instead he got into an argument over the burglary," Ms. Donovan said.

But, Hopings' attorney, Mark Jacobs, told the jury that his client would take the witness stand and testify that he shot Badgett in self-defense, in part, because the victim's behavior turned aggressive and threatening.

Mr. Jacobs said the victim grabbed at his waistband several times during the 20 to 30 minute confrontation, making it appear as though he may have had a gun.

Judge Ruth Ann Franks is presiding over the trial, which is expected to resume at 8:30 this morning.

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